Josh Hamilton is off to a slow start in his return to the Rangers, recording one hit in his first 11 at-bats. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Red Sox-Rangers series preview

May 28, 2015 - 5:23 am
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To close out the month of May and their road trip, the Red Sox begin a four-game series with the Rangers on Thursday in Arlington, Texas. For the second time this season, the Sox were swept by their opponent in their most recent series, dropping all three games to the Twins and getting outscored 14-7 in the process. In the first and second games of the series, Boston was unable to plate more than two runs before plating four Wednesday afternoon when Dustin Pedroia hit two two-run home runs. The Sox have scored two or fewer runs in 19 of their 42 games this year and own a 4-15 record in those contests. When crossing the plate three times or fewer, Boston is 5-17. In their last 15 games, the Red Sox have tallied two or fewer nine times with a 2-7 record. "A lot of early outs, put the ball on the ground, a couple of ground-ball double plays. I'd like to think our approach can be a little bit more concerted, a little bit more concentrated," manager John Farrell said after Tuesday's 2-1 loss. "I think we're capable of more than we showed here." The Sox also made an addition to the 40-man roster, announcing on Wednesday that they had acquired outfielder Carlos Peguero from the Rangers for cash considerations. Peguero, who is a left-handed hitter, doesn't do much to abate Boston's woes batting vs. lefties, and makes the outfield picture just a little more crowded. Thursday will mark Sox pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez's first major league start. The Rangers, despite dropping their most recent contest against the Indians on Wednesday, ending a seven-game winning streak, are 8-2 in their last 10 games, tied with Minnesota for the best mark in the American League during that stretch. "Winning is contagious," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said after his team's comeback win Tuesday night. "I think all of it plays together. It's a lot more fun to play when you're winning games." The Rangers are still fourth in their division, but just a half-game separates them from the second-place Mariners, and their 23-24 record puts them 4 1/2 games out of the wild card spot. And while the Rangers have been hot recently, there is a saving grace for the Sox in that Texas is 6-13 at home this season compared to 17-11 on the road. Still, Texas is on the upswing in terms of offense. When the Rangers visited Fenway Park a little over a week ago, they had one of the worst team batting averages in the league. It's not one of the best now, but they've managed to raise it from .237 to .245. Texas has increased its run total enough to jump from 16th in the majors up to fifth, crossing the plate 55 times in its last nine games for 213 runs on the year. With 138 runs so far this month, the Rangers lead the league in that category for May as well as in home runs (40), RBIs (129), slugging percentage (.472) and total bases (425). Where pitching is concerned, the Rangers have gotten worse. The rotation had an ERA of 3.98 nine games ago, about average for the league. Now, it's 4.42, which is 22nd in the majors. Their relievers are working more than any other bullpen staff, pitching 167 innings, though their collective ERA has gone down from 4.68 nine games ago to 4.26 now. That's still sixth worst in the league, though. Here are the pitching matchups for the series: Eduardo Rodriguez (first start) vs. Nick Martinez (4-0, 1.96 ERA) Steven Wright (2-1, 3.68 ERA) vs. Yovani Gallardo (4-6, 4.13 ERA) Wade Miley (4-4, 4.47 ERA) vs. Phil Klein (1-0, 8.25 ERA) Joe Kelly (1-4, 6.24 ERA) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (2-2, 3.60) WHO'S HOT: RED SOX -- Accounting for every Red Sox run on Wednesday via a pair of two-run home runs, Dustin Pedroia is leading the way for Boston over the last seven games. The second baseman is 11-for-28 in that time and is slugging at a .643 clip with six RBIs. -- Mike Napoli had an impressive homestand that ended Sunday, nabbing nine hits in 21 at-bats while posting a slash line of .429/.500/1.190. He did not register a hit in Wednesday's loss to the Twins, which snapped a five-game hitting streak, but his recent feats in the batter's box have tipped his season average over .200 for the first time this year. In addition, five of Napoli's past nine games have been multi-hit efforts while he only had two such games in the 33 prior. -- Recording wins in each of his last three starts and scheduled to take the mound Saturday, Wade Miley has allowed just three earned runs in his past 21 2/3 innings for a 1.25 ERA. The lefty has struck out 10 and walked six in that time, holding batters to a .200/.256/.300 slash line as well. WHO'S HOT: RANGERS -- Prince Fielder is batting .469 in his last seven games, connecting for a hit 15 times in 32 at-bats and collecting 15 RBIs in the process. More than half of his hits have gone for extra bases, as he has three doubles and five home runs in that span for a 1.031 slugging percentage. Fielder's consistent success at the plate has upped his slash line to .368/.418/1.008 for the year. -- Through his past seven games Mitch Moreland is 10-for-29, striking out just three times and walking once. He has three home runs and two doubles as well, helping him compile six RBIs and a .724 slugging percentage. -- Elvis Andrus has six RBIs in his last seven games, slashing .333/.321/.519 in the process with a home run and two doubles. The shortstop also has struck out six times, stolen a base and been caught stealing. WHO'S NOT: RED SOX -- David Ortiz has just three hits in his past 29 at-bats, though two were doubles and he was able to record a pair of RBIs. Ortiz has not walked in his past seven games and struck out four times for an anemic .103/.103/.172 slash line. -- After registering two consecutive quality starts, Joe Kelly lasted just 1 2/3 innings on Monday against the Twins, giving up seven earned runs on eight hits. The stint brought his season ERA up to 6.24 and his WHIP to 1.45. -- Since returning from injury, Hanley Ramirez is hitting just .221 in his last 17 games. More recently, Ramirez has turned in a slash line of .167/.259/.167 over his last seven games, recording four hits in 24 at-bats with an RBI and four strikeouts. WHO'S NOT: RANGERS -- In his two most recent starts, Colby Lewis has allowed 14 earned runs on 19 hits over the course of 9 1/3 innings. He gave up three home runs and walked one while striking out five, posting a 1-1 record in that time and bumping his season ERA from 3.06 to 4.70. Opponents slashed .404/.429/.723 against him in those two outings. -- Reliever Anthony Bass has surrendered four runs in his last 5 1/3 innings of work. On Wednesday, Bass logged 4 1/3 frames against the Indians when he had to rescue Lewis after the starter tossed just 2 2/3 innings and gave up nine earned runs. Cleveland knocked in two runs on five hits off Bass, whose season ERA now sits at 4.35. -- Josh Hamilton's first three games back with the Rangers have yielded just one hit in 11 at-bats. Hamilton has drawn a walk and struck out four times for a slash line of .091/.167/.091.

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